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Women’s Employment Update: African American Women Are the Only Group Whose Unemployment Has Not Improved in a Year

Posted by Anne Morrison, Fellow | Posted on: September 05, 2014 at 03:49 pm

August’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics comes as somewhat of a disappointment today, as the economy broke its six-month streak of adding more than 200,000 jobs each month. The job growth slowdown is not the only disappointment to note in today’s report. While unemployment rates for all other groups of workers are lower now than they were a year ago, African American women are experiencing the same rate of unemployment as they were in August 2013—10.6 percent.

NWLC’s analysis reveals some key indicators about the state of women and the economy over the last year:

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Seventh Circuit Joins Appellate Courts to Affirm Marriage Equality

Posted by Hillary Schneller, Fellow | Posted on: September 05, 2014 at 10:54 am

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit struck down Indiana and Wisconsin laws that exclude same-sex couples from marriage [PDF]. The three judge panel joined the two other federal appeals courts—in the Fourth and Tenth Circuits—that, since the Supreme Court’s Windsor decision, have found marriage inequality unconstitutional.  

In a forceful decision for the unanimous panel written just nine days after the cases were argued, Judge Richard Posner concluded that the states’ marriage bans violate the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee. Judge Posner wrote that cases present a straightforward question: whether the states “are discriminating against homosexuals by denying them a right that these states grant heterosexuals, namely the right to marry an unmarried adult of their choice.” The court’s analysis, he wrote, “goes to the heart of equal protection doctrine” and “capture the essence of the Supreme Court’s approach in heightened scrutiny cases,” the approach courts use to evaluate whether laws that discriminate based on sex violate equal protection.

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Five Reasons to Raise the Minimum Wage for Tipped Workers

Posted by | Posted on: September 04, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Did you know that in most states, when you tip your waitress, you’re actually paying her wages?

That’s because the federal minimum wage law allows employers of tipped workers to pay them as little as $2.13 per hour (the “tipped minimum cash wage”), and count your tips to fulfill their obligation to pay their workers the minimum wage. While employers are legally required to make up the difference between $2.13 and the regular minimum wage if tips fall short, studies show [PDF] that all too often employers don’t do this. This is particularly a problem for women, who are two-thirds of tipped workers.

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Living "Mad Men": A Woman at Work in the 1950s

Posted by Mia Jacobs, Program Assistant | Posted on: September 04, 2014 at 09:28 am

I have a pretty cool grandmother. She is more current on culture than almost anyone I know, seeing every new film release before I have, always having an opinion on every political event as it happens. When Mad Men premiered in 2007 to widespread critical acclaim, I naturally asked my grandmother if she was watching. Her response: “I don’t need to watch it. I lived it.”

September 7 is National Grandparent’s Day, and thanks to the American Grandparents Association and the National Women’s Law Center, I was given the special opportunity to interview my grandmother about what it was like to be a working woman in America in the 1950s — what it truly meant to “live” Mad Men.

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Alumni of George Washington University: Our Former President Thinks Women Are Asking For It

Posted by Megan Tackney, Outreach Manager for Health and Reproductive Rights | Posted on: September 03, 2014 at 10:01 am

“One of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave. And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much. And there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children on that — in that regard.”

That’s right folks — that’s former GW President and current professor, Dr. Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, talking on the Diane Rhem show last week about the issue of fraternities’ participation in sexual misconduct. The person who was once in charge of approximately 25,000 students — a good number of whom we can safely assume are women — has just confidently stated that at the heart of the campus sexual assault problem are women who drink too much. Think I’m oversimplifying things? Go ahead — check the transcript. When asked the question, he says nothing to address the actual rapists and instead, quite unoriginally, blames women (or ahem children) who are raped.

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What Would Make Labor Day So Much Better? Schedules That Work!

Melody Pabon and her four-year-old son MasonLabor Day memorializes laborers’ courageous fights throughout our nation’s history for fair working conditions, starting with battles over long hours, low pay, child labor, and unsafe working conditions in the 1800s and 1900s that led to major advances in all of these areas.

And today, workers are still on the frontlines – fighting for livable wages and for an end to abusive scheduling practices, which are increasingly common in the American workplace. All too often, employers require that workers have completely open availability to be eligible for full-time hours, and cancel and assign shifts at the very last minute. Too many part-time workers simply cannot get enough hours at their jobs to make ends meet.

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Closing the Wage Gap at Gap

Posted by Emily Werth, Fellow | Posted on: August 28, 2014 at 02:17 pm

Equal pay is achievable – just ask Gap Inc. Earlier this week the company announced that that it is paying men and women equally for work on the same jobs. It worked with a consulting firm to evaluate its pay practices and confirm pay parity between the sexes. The company also revealed that it is ahead of the curve in terms of its numbers of women in leadership positions.

Gap’s success in maintaining equal pay is all the more striking when you consider that women working in the retail sector as a whole experienced a 32 cent wage gap compared to their male counterparts in 2011. This gap for the retail sector is much larger than the overall wage gap between men and women.

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Illinois Commits to Protect Pregnant Workers

Posted by Emily Martin, Vice President and General Counsel | Posted on: August 26, 2014 at 10:19 am

Bene’t Holmes, a 25-year-old single mother of a five-year-old son, worked at Walmart in Chicago when she became pregnant last year. Holmes describes having trouble lifting 50-pound boxes on the job when she was four months pregnant. Walmart’s written policy at the time was to provide reasonable accommodations for disabilities and on-the-job injuries, but not for pregnancy. Holmes knew that her work was putting excessive strain on her body, and her doctor said she needed temporary job duties that would be less physically strenuous. But according to Holmes, a store manager denied her request, explaining that when she took her job, she was expected to lift 50 pounds. The day after her request was denied, Holmes had a miscarriage while at work at Walmart.

Unfortunately, Holmes’ story is not unique. Today, more women are in the workforce than ever before and are working later into their pregnancies. While most women continue working throughout their pregnancies with no need for changes in their jobs, some—particularly those in physically demanding jobs—will need temporary adjustments to continue working safely. Frequently these women need only a simple accommodation—like avoiding heavy lifting for a few months, being permitted to sit occasionally during a long workday, or staying off high ladders.

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